Oakland has a reputation as a city with a high rate of violent crime, a problem that began during the late 1960s and escalated during the 1970s and 1980s. By the end of the 1970s Oakland's murder rate had risen to twice that of San Francisco or New York City. 
During the 1990s and 2000s, Oakland has consistently been listed as one of the most dangerous of large cities in the United States. The 94 murders in Oakland in 2005 and 145 murders in 2006 contributed to making the city's ranking jump significantly worse, going to 8th most dangerous for 2006. In 2007, Oakland was ranked 4th most dangerous city in the U.S., surpassing all other Bay Area cities. All rankings above are based on the crime stats from the previous [calendar] year, with the reports released in the fall. Oakland ranks high in California for most categories of crime. Rates of other violent crimes, such as assault and rape, are also far above the U.S. average. 120 murders recorded in 2007 made Oakland's murder rate third highest in California, behind Richmond and Compton; however, Oakland also boasted rape and robbery rates per capita that were almost twice those of Richmond and Compton, making the city violent crime rate highest overall.
In the Morgan Quitno's "Most Dangerous Cities of 2007," Oakland was ranked 4th most dangerous in the nation behind Detroit, St. Louis, and Flint, the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd most dangerous cities in the nation, respectively.
In 2003, 109 murders in a city of 407,000 set Oakland 3.5 times higher than the national average. That same year, all violent crimes in Oakland were 2.31 times more numerous than the national average, and property crimes were 1.26 times more numerous. In 2004, there were 88 murders, and in 2005, there were 94. Police estimated that drugs played a part in 80% of the murders.
Most violent crime occurs in West Oakland and the flatlands of East Oakland between I-580 and I-880. Montclair, Rockridge and Lake Merritt have fewer problems with violent crime. Property crime is widespread throughout the city. In 2007, Oakland had by far the highest robbery and motor vehicle theft rates of all significant cities in California, with one robbery per 114 residents and one car theft per 40 residents, three to four times the state average.  A rash of high-profile restaurant takeover robberies in 2008 has led to sharp criticism.
The five-year average for homicide victims in Oakland breaks down as follows: 77% Black, 15.4% Hispanic, 3.2% White, 2.8% Asian and 1.6% Unknown. The five-year average for homicide suspects in Oakland breaks down as follows: 64.7% Black, 8.6% Hispanic, 0.2% White, 2.0% Asian and 24.4% Unknown. In 2006, homicide victims under the age of 18 tripled compared to previous years. Five year averages compiled for 2001-2006 showed that 30% of murder victims were between the ages of 18 to 24 and another 33% were between 25 and 34 years old. Males made up 96% of suspects and 88% of victims.
Despite comprising only 30-35% of the population, African-Americans are over-represented in crime statistics, with the majority of crimes occurring in heavily African-American neighborhoods. Earl Ofari Hutchinson mentions crime in Oakland as an example of a rising problem of "black-on-black" crime, which Oakland shares with other major cities in the US. Bill Cosby mentions Oakland as one of the many American cities where crime is endemic and young African-American men are being murdered and incarcerated in disproportionate numbers because their parents, and the Black community in general, have failed to inculcate proper standards of moral behavior. 
An analysis by the Urban Institute of U.S. Census 2000 numbers showed that Oakland has the third-highest concentration of gays and lesbians among the 50 largest U.S. cities, behind San Francisco and Seattle.